This is a sort of therapeutic letter I wrote but never sent to the girl who reported the man who molested us. I don’t know how to get in touch with her, and I can’t be sure she’d appreciate it if I did, but I thought I would share this as a sort of tribute to all of the other kids who did what she did.
It has been a while since we have met. It was long ago when we last met and we were both children. I am writing this because I just wanted thank you for saving my life. You probably did not even know you had, but you did.
When you told how you had been molested by our grandfather and the shockwaves rippled through the family, I believed you. How could I not, when he did something very similar to me? When my mother sat me down and asked me after you told, the amount of power he had over me, my mom, and my siblings went rushing through my head. As I faced the reality of what had happened, truly confronting it for the first time, I panicked and lied. After that “no” slipped from my lips, I felt regret wash through me as I heard my mother’s relieved sigh. But it was out and it was done, I felt like I couldn’t take it back. So I stayed silent and I watched. As I sat there, a quiet liar, I listened as they called your honesty lies. I felt a horrible sense of freedom when your threat of a civil suit spurred the man who molested us to sign the farm over to my mother, giving me a new found safety.
Your courage gave me that security and it gave me the push I needed to start on the journey to dealing psychologically and emotionally with what had happened to me. No, scratch that, what he did to me and to you, and to others. The suicidal level of turmoil began to fall away as I learned to cope with that and so many other things. If you had not been so brave and faced such hell, I would probably have killed myself. I think of you, a scared ten year old trying to fight for justice and being treated as a villain, and wonder at the pain you must have felt, and I wonder if you felt that the lost legal battles and social ties were a waste. So I just wanted you to know what incredible gifts you have given me. I want to thank you. You played a bigger role in who I am today than you may ever realize. When people see me, the passionate, successful intellectual who is always the first to jump in and fight when victims are slandered and the last to back down, I wish they could see you too. I wish they could see the ripples that spread out when one little girl fought back, even though she was denied full justice. You did something no child should ever be expected to do. You did something extraordinary. You have given me one of the greatest gifts anyone ever has, and you saved my life.
So if you ever felt that because you lost those legal battles that your fight was meaningless, maybe you could think to yourself that it made you a hero to me. I am so very grateful.
Love, your cousin, C.